out of Five
Running time: 91
Depressingly laugh-free comedy that's so irredeemably awful that you'll wonder why Martin Lawrence isn't in it.
What's it all about?
A deservedly huge flop in the States, Codename: The Cleaner stars Cedric the Entertainer (who should maybe think about changing his name after this) as Jake, a seemingly regular guy who wakes up in a hotel next to a dead body and a briefcase full of cash. He also has no memory of who he is or how he got there, but he nicks off with the briefcase anyway and promptly runs into Diane (Nicolette Sheridan), who convinces him that he's her rich husband and tries to pump him for information on the whereabouts of a computer chip.
Escaping Diane's duplicitous clutches, Jake meets Gina (Lucy Liu), a waitress who tells him that he's the employee of a video game company.
However, thanks to a series of war zone-themed flashbacks, Jake becomes convinced he's a CIA agent codenamed 'The Cleaner' and he sets out to prove it.
The script is desperately, painfully unamusing from start to finish – there's not a single funny line or sight gag in the entire film. The plot is badly thought out too, as well as needlessly complicated for such a basic comedy – it could easily lose at least three of the characters with no discernible difference to the story.
Cedric the Entertainer's performance is so awful that you suspect he's been taking comedy lessons from Martin Lawrence. Lucy Liu and Nicolette Sheridan both do their best, but they're horribly miscast and you only end up feeling sorry for them, particularly during Nicolette's embarrassing lingerie-based seduction scene.
The casting woes don't end there: the film also features perennial movie bad guy and double crosser Will Patton as, er, a good guy and casts martial artist Mark Dacascos without giving him any decent fight scenes.
In short, this is an unmitigated disaster that is actually painful to watch. Avoid like your life depended on it.
Codename: The Cleaner (PG)